Community response to anticipated vaccine 'overwhelming'

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
COVID vaccine

The community response to the anticipated arrival of the COVID vaccine to Brown County has been “overwhelming,” Brownwood/Brown County Health Administrator Lisa Dick told commissioners court members Monday.

Dick asked that people refrain from calling the health department and hospital to ask when the vaccine will be available but wait instead for information from the media.

Dick did not know when the next doses — which will be for people aged 65 or older or who have an immune-compromising health condition — will arrive in Brown County.

Dick said earlier she’s hopeful that will happen next week but did not know how many doses would arrive. Monday morning, Dick repeated that hope.

“We’ll find out soon where the next group of vaccines will go,” Dick said. “The response from the community of wanting to receive those vaccines has really been overwhelming, so the positive note to that has been we know that our community wants the vaccine.

“The negative part of it for us is that we have been overwhelmed by phone calls at the health department and at the hospital — so many that for our staff that are managing COVID cases, it’s interfering with them being able to do that as well. So we’re asking the community to not call, but instead listen to our local media. We will make sure that they get the information out as soon as we find out when and where we’ll be getting the next vaccine.”

Nursing homes have not received the vaccine but should be getting those “over the next few weeks,” Dick said. “The  vaccines that are going to nursing homes were contracted through CDC and through (Texas Department of Health and Human Services), or the individual nursing homes with pharmacy groups. So it’s usually going to be bigger or private pharmacies that deal with nursing homes.”

Hendrick Medical Center — Brownwood received about 600 doses of the vaccine in late December, which were given front-line health workers and first responders — the group designated by the CDC as the first tier, Dick said.

“So that next group should be the 65-and-older individuals, and then individuals with immune compromising health conditions,” Dick said.

Addressing local COVID numbers, Dick said Brown County has had a total of 2,797 positive COVID test results as of Thursday, with 517 active cases and 73 deaths. Seventeen COVID patients were in the Brownwood hospital as of Thursday, Dick said.

“In the past week, we had an increase of 208 cases and we had 13 deaths reported,” Dick said. “That is still fairly substantial, especially the deaths. I think that’s the most that we’ve had in one week.”

Brown County saw “a little bit of a turn-up” in COVID cases after Thanksgiving, and “we’re expecting the same thing” from Christmas, Dick said.

With 517 active cases, “that is going to give us a bigger opportunity of running into someone else who’s positive when you’re out in the community,” Dick said.

Drive-thru testing is available daily through Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium.